Seeing the Wood for the Trees – Critical Success Factors

Do you often feel in business that you ‘can’t see the wood for the trees?’ When workloads increase and multiple deadlines are fast approaching it is often difficult to assess what is really important and what should wait.  Understanding what business activities create the maximum value in your company is absolutely critical. It sounds completely obvious doesn’t it? But few Executives and Managers when challenged understand which activities really create value and drive the business forward.

These factors are known as ‘Critical Success Factors’ and are the essential areas of activity that must be performed well to achieve the mission, objectives and goals of the business. Not only do CSFs help you focus resources on what is important, but they also help in communicate to the team the mission critical activities. This helps members of the team to pull together in one direction and utilise their limited resources for maximum impact.

So how do you identify the CSFs in your business? The following lists the key steps:

  1. First determine and establish you company’s strategic objectives and mission statement.
  2. For each of the strategic objectives determine what business activity is necessary to achieve the objective. These are the candidate CSFs.
  3. Review in detail the entire list of candidate CSFs and distil them down to the absolute critical tasks. Eliminate CSFs where duplication of activities occurs. A maximum of 5 to 6 CSFs is recommended.
  4. Identify how you will measure and monitor each of the CSFs.
  5. Communicate the CSFs to the team and explain their importance and how they will be measured.
  6. Continuously re-evaluate the CSFs and set new ones when you achieve your objectives.

Not only are CSFs used to monitor and evaluate the performance of a business they can be used as the basis to create powerful, high impact operating plans. Using CSFs in this way ensures that the operating plan is inextricably linked to the strategic objectives of the business. One of the most common areas of failure in business is the inability of a management team to translate their high level strategic objectives into high value operational tasks that will deliver the objectives. By using CSFs in this way you ensure that the operational activities deliver the strategic objectives of the organisation.

Campbell Ventures provide interim strategic and operational management services to businesses that want to grow and improve their performance. We utilise CSFs throughout our work as a key performance improvement and management tool to develop winning strategies that deliver the desired results operationally. If you are interested to learn more about applying the power of CSFs please call Mike Campbell, Managing Director for a confidential discussion on +44 7771 615641 or

For further information about Campbell Ventures and our services and capability please refer to and